We were inspired to apply for funding to make Swale Space Champions a reality after taking part in the ACE Ambassador programme. Professionals were brought together to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Trauma Informed Practice. The programme provided the opportunity to discuss and collaborate on our experiences of supporting individuals, children and families within the community, and to consider how the training could adapt our practice.
In the Swale area, there are 57 schools with over 23,000 children on roll within these schools.
Of this, 19.9% are eligible for free school meals and 4,792 families met the Troubled Families Headline Criteria in January 2020.
Research proves that these children and families are most at risk of ACEs.
By educating schools and agencies that work with children and families, we want to mitigate some of the risk factors and reduce the potential impacts of ACEs in adulthood.
From June 2019-May 2020, 38% of all reported crimes were violent in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.
This is a community issue and while violent behaviour is often viewed as a stand-alone action, it can be a way of expressing difficult emotions. Often, it is learned behaviour and the only way someone knows to express difficult feelings.
Introducing a trauma informed approach would involve looking at what has happened to that person to cause them to act in this way, rather than focusing on the violent act alone.
This change in thinking and practice could lead to supporting offenders to make changes rather than simply enforcing sanctions.
We believe supporting the community from the school level and beyond will have a positive impact on these figures, as changes in practice and understanding act as preventative measures. Supporting people rather than simply applying sanctions would help to reduce the chance of offending and referrals to the social care system. We would aim to support children and adults in the community to build resilience and find other outlets for their emotions.
Our programme centres around the development of a network of ‘ACE Champions’, invited from a variety of organisations within the Swale area. The ACE Champions will attend a training session on ACEs and Trauma Informed Practice, and they will have the opportunity to build relationships with fellow professionals and collaborate on ideas for system change.
By educating our ‘Champions’, we hope that organisations will support them to implement changes and see the need to seek out further whole staff training, with a common goal of implementing Trauma Informed Practice throughout organisations in Swale.
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